New Orleans Pelicans fire head coach Monty Williams
The move comes after a season where New Orleans went 45-37 and made the playoffs, edging Oklahoma City for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. In five seasons, Williams led the Pelicans to a record of 173-221. The news of his firing was first reported by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"I have the utmost respect for Monty Williams, not only as a coach but as a person," Pelicans owner Tom Benson said in a statement. "He represented our team, our organization and our city with tremendous class and dignity. Gayle and I grew very fond of Monty and his wife Ingrid and of course their five beautiful children. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward."
Williams later responded to his firing in an interview with WDSU in New Orleans.
Williams took over entering the 2010-11 season, inheriting a Chris Paul-led team that won 46 games. After Paul was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers, the team's fortunes sunk, falling to 21 wins in 2011-12.
New Orleans improved its record in each of the past three seasons, selecting rising star Anthony Davis with the top pick in the 2012 draft and leaping to 45 wins from 34 in 2013-14. New Orleans was swept by Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
The news comes weeks after Benson offered what looked like a vote of confidence in Williams and his staff in the form of a congratulatory letter on the team's season.
"I am very excited about the future of our Pelicans and you have my word and my resolve to bring everything to bear to win," Benson wrote. "New Orleans deserves an NBA Championship and we have the foundation, facilities and fans to make this a reality."
"We thank Monty for his dedication and leadership to our team both on and off the court," Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said. "He served as a great role model for our young team and worked tirelessly towards the development of all of our players. We endured a lot of change during the past season and Monty was a steady influence in our locker room. We wish him and his family nothing but the best."
- Jeremy Woo